I just purchased a new computer last week. My old system, a Dell XPS 8300, was getting long in the tooth being 6 years old!
The New one is a Dell XPS 8920 tower
It does not look very impressive from the front, but you know what they say, never judge a book by it’s cover! This is a very small tower case. 7.1″ X 14″ X 15.3. But performancewise it has a lot going for it.
I bought mine from the Dell Outlet, as usual! It was listed as “scratch and dent”, but I have yet to find a scratch on it. I was searching for a system that would have most of the newest features and technologies. And was cheaper than “new”. I did pretty well.
Windows 10 home Edition
256GB SSD with the OS installed
1TB SATA 3 HDD (western Digital Blue drive)
16GB 2400MHz memory
AMD RX580 8GB Video card
WIFI/Bluetooth M.2 card
The SSD is a NVME M.2 256GB Toshiba drive (THNSN5256GPUK). This drive has Windows 10 installed on it. This makes for a very fast entry into windows from a cold boot. It is faster than most Tablets getting into windows. more later
Another available option is the Intel “Optane”. Optane acts a drive cache to the primary HDD drive. These can be installed into a m.2 card slot on the motherboard. This slot allows faster transfer rates than the SATA3 controller can reach. It is supposedly a PCIE x4 transfer rate.
The 1TB is a standard Western Digital “Blue” drive connected by SATA 3. This tower can have 3 3.5 drives installed.
Considering I was comparing 6 year old technology, to this new machine, I of course was impressed. It sailed through the setup crap. The first startup did take a bit but not the hour it took the old machine to get through setup of the OS. The first start into windows after setup flew. I measured it’s second startup at a counted 27 seconds. Very fast compared to the minutes I was used to on the old system. Getting into a game is a bit quicker as this is SATA 3 versus SATA2. I could move the game to play from the SSD, Drive C:\, then it would move right along. With only 256GB I am keeping most of my 500GB of games on the HDD. I used windows Storage management to move Photos, Music, Documents, Maps and Movies to the HDD. Apps still install to drive C:\.
The system has plenty of USB ports! On the back; 2 X 2.0 (for keyboard and mouse), 1 X 3.1, 3 X 3.0. On the front; there are 4 X 3.0 ports.
I am not going to go into deep detail of the technologies used in this box. I will hit them lightly. The NVME M.2 connector is right on the motherboard. The SSD is (edit) 22mm X 80mm. It installs like laptop RAM. You put it into the connector at an angle to the Motherboard, then push it down flat. There is one screw to keep it in place. There are several screw holes for different lengths of m.2 devices. This motherboard uses the “M” connector standard. There are sizes available from 128GB to 1TB. The standard is WW-LL-HH-K or K/K. So the THNSN5256GPUK Toshiba unit is Single Sided 22mm-80mm-S3(single sided)-M (connector). So it is 2280S3M. Unfortunately they never seem to show this at retailers, which would make it a lot easier to find a replacement or upgrade!
The other device for this connector from Dell is the Intel Optane accelerator. Usually Dell uses the 16GB model. It is a high performance SSD type drive that is used as a “Cache” to the primary Hard Disk Drive. It only caches the primary disk. If there are other drives installed they do not benefit from Optane. To use Optane you have to have Windows 10, A motherboard that can accept it (M.2 slot), Bios that recognizes it! You also need an Intel Storage Driver that supports Optane. So you cannot retrofit it to an older system. My brother has the 16GB Optane module and is very happy with it so far. It takes a bit of use to get the cache populated and operating at it’s best. I beat him into windows he beats me, usually, moving from map to map in the games! Dell does not offer the 32GB Optane module in it’s systems! I costs about $75 for the 32GB module online. The 16GB module is about $48.
NOTE: You can only have 1 of these options in any system. Either a m.2 SSD or an Optane cache! They cannot work together!
Either of these helps performance. You have to decide which is best for you. Setup for either is very technical. But if you can install more memory (bios changes, new drivers, driver settings, windows settings) you can probably follow the directions to install either one. Installation of both is well documented.
If having last years technology is not good enough, the XPS 8930 has even newer specs. Like 8th gen Intel processors, a newer Z370 chipset, Faster memory and more USB 3.1 ports. The case is essentially the same, as is the power supply. But remember I was almost two years off the mark on the last system and it was still playing the newest games.
That is the one component that was getting tired after 6 years, The HDD! It started corrupting files when I was copying files to the new computer. This process has the HDD’s running continuously for hours on end. I transferred about 500GB of files and that pushed it over the edge. But for that, it would still be running probably for another couple of years. (pssst, oh yeah! it is still running!) The only other component that failed was the power switch about a year ago. I had to search to find a replacement. Ended up having to repair the one I got off Ebay to make it work! (psssst, revived) It has been updated with a newer 2GB 7770 video card and the HDD was upgraded to a SATA 3 from a SATA 2 drive, replacing the tired drive with a totally clean load of Win 10!
The old system had an i7-2600, 8GB of DDR3 memory a 1.5 TB Seagate SATA2 HDD, a DVD player, a DVD-RW writer, WIFI/Bluetooth adapter (M.2) and 1GB Radeon 6770 Video card. I upgraded it with PCI card for 2 X USB 3.0 ports. I then put a 32GB USB 3.0 PNY stick in one for Readyboost. It came with Windows 7, upgraded to Windows 10 with no problems at all! It was a relatively high end system for it’s day. And the new one is of the same caliber!
The things I DON’T like about it!
Power supply would not be easy to upgrade.
The Laptop style 8X DVD-RW unit.
Extra 2 HDD bays face the side cover. You need a 90 degree cable ends, at both ends, as the other end is encroached by the Video card. The bays need to be deeper and the motherboard SATA’s need relocation away from the video card slot!
Most of these are the price you pay for such a small full featured computer case!